7 Things We Learned About Frank Sinatra

December 08, 2015 at 12:03 pm

To celebrate Frank Sinatra’s upcoming 100th birthday, we sat down with three men who know him the best: Charles Pignone, vice president of Frank Sinatra Enterprises, photographer George Kalinsky and his son, Frank Sinatra Jr.

Pignone is the author of “Sinatra 100,” a newly released book that celebrates the Chairman of the Board’s life and features photos by Kalinksy.

You can watch the full interview above, but here’s a few things they told us about Ol’ Blue Eyes:

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Have your own fun fact? Tweet us at @MetroFocus with the hashtag #Sinatra100.

1. He was inspired by Billie Holiday.

Sinatra’s musical influences included Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby and even Louis Armstong, but his son says Holiday left a particular impression on him.

“Obviously he could not be like Billie Holiday but there was a certain meter in her voice that she would employ, and I think that’s what influenced him so much,” Frank Jr. said.

2. Sinatra didn’t think his Academy Award-winning performance was his best.

In 1954, Sinatra accepted the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in “From Here To Eternity,” but thought his best work was on a different set.

“I think we do have an interview where Frank does say that he thought he should have won for ‘Man With A Golden Arm’ instead of ‘Eternity,” Pignone said.

3. He got acting advice from the man who portrayed Frankenstein’s monster.

Per a chance encounter at a restaurant, Sinatra had a fan boy moment when he met Boris Karloff in the men’s room.

“And he said, ‘Mr. Karloff I’ve admired you my whole life since you’ve scared the hell out of me when you played Frankenstein’s monster when I was a kid.'” Frank Jr. said.

Karloff complimented Sinatra right back.

“Karloff said, ‘Ah young man, and you too are a fine actor, but you must learn to act with your voice as well as your face,'” Sinatra’s son said.

The two exchanged numbers and for the next several years, Sintara would bring his scripts to Karloff’s house for acting advice.

4. Two of Sinatra’s children, Frank Jr. and Tina, followed their father’s footsteps without any instruction from him.

“I don’t believe he taught either one of us,” Frank Jr. said. “His attitude was that children are going to have to have their own learning experiences, for which I’m very grateful.”

Courtesy: Thames and Husdon

Courtesy: Thames and Husdon

5. Tony Bennett owes part of his success to Frank Sinatra.

“In 1965, Frank did an article for Life magazine when he was turning 50 and he had a quote in there — I’m paraphrasing — that Tony Bennet, for his money, was the best singer in the business, and Tony still says that after that quote came out it got Sinatra’s audience to listen to him — not that there was ever a rivalry — but just people opened up to him, and he feels that that propelled his career to where it is today,” said Pignone.

6. That time he was Photographer Frank.

In 1971, Sinatra was hired by Life magazine to photograph the “Fight Of The Century” between undefeated heavyweights Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. At the time he actually knew little about photography, which is how he met photographer Kalinsky. Sinatra sought out Kalinsky for his advice ahead of the assignment.

“And I was in my office one day and the door opes and Frank Sinatra walks in and he puts out his hand, and I mean I love Frank Sinatra more than any entertainer there was, and there he is in my office,” Kalinsky said. “He extends his hand and he said, ‘Hi, I’m Frank Sinatra, I hear you’re a great photographer and I want you to tell me what you know about photography in five minutes,'” he said.

One of Sinatra’s photographs from the fight landed on the magazine’s front cover.

7. He (sort of) gets his politics from his mother.

From Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Sinatra spent a lot of his time devoted to campaigning and politics. Frank Jr. believes this interest came from his mother, Dolly Sinatra, who was heavily involved in the Democratic Party in New Jersey.

“I have made a conclusion but only personally: my father was very active in politics, very interested in politics — he worked for presidents, senators, congressman, governors — and I think he developed this interest in politics from his mother, because she had been in politics when he was a boy,” Frank Jr. said.

Have your own fun fact? Tweet us at @MetroFocus with the hashtag #Sinatra100.

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Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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